Liverpool insist Coutinho not for sale at any price

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If you believe this strong statement from Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, Philippe Coutinho will not join Barcelona.

For any price.

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The Reds reportedly turned down a $116 million bid from Barca for Coutinho, 25, in the past 24 hours and on the eve of the new Premier League season Klopp has sent out a defiant message to the Spanish giants.

Speaking to Sky Germany ahead of Liverpool’s clash with Watford on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via, Klopp had the following to say about Barcelona’s pursuit of Coutinho.

“Liverpool is not a club that has to sell players. That is set in stone. So what they pay in the end doesn’t matter. From a financial standpoint, there is no price limit to let him go. No price at which we are ready to give in,” Klopp said. “Our goal is to have the best possible team. So we want to keep our guys and add new ones. That is our plan.”

Can Liverpool follow through with that plan?

To date Coutinho (who is an injury doubt with a back problem for the opening weekend game) hasn’t handed in a transfer request but with officials from Barcelona said to be on Merseyside to try and force through a move, a bid of over $140 million would surely be too good to turn down.

Coutinho is said to want to move to Barca but is being respectful of Liverpool, a club he signed a new five-year deal with in January as he became their highest earner.

The Brazilian playmaker is seen as a replacement for Neymar initially and then more likely for Andres Iniesta, and even though the Catalan club have been interested in Liverpool’s star man for some time they’ve been sparked into action after Neymar’s incredible world-record move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Back to Liverpool’s stance, Klopp is right that they aren’t a selling club and they probably don’t need the money from Barcelona, but does any Premier League club really need to sell its star player right now? With the riches flooding into the league, look around. Swansea City don’t want to sell Gylfi Sigurdsson, Southampton doesn’t want to sell Virgil Van Dijk and Leicester City aren’t particularly keen on getting rid of Riyad Mahrez. All three would sell if ridiculous offers came in and two of those three players have publicly declared that they want to leave.

Coutinho hasn’t done that but if he really wants this move to Barcelona to play alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the next step is for him to hand in a transfer request. If that happens then, just like the Suarez situation in 2014, can Liverpool really stand in his way?

With $140 million they could buy two world-class players to replace Coutinho and there is an argument that he can be easily replaced. With Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana, Divock Origi, Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge, they are stacked in attack.

Yes, Coutinho is a wonderful player and his 13 goals and seven assists last season were a big reason finished in the top four, but every player has his price. Barca have already offered way over what Coutinho is worth and if they come calling with a third huge offer, Liverpool should take it. Klopp would lose a key man in his rebuild of Liverpool, but Coutinho isn’t irreplaceable.

Fueled by “Neymar cash” Barcelona needs a new playmaker and Liverpool will be the big winners, even if Coutinho leaves.

The 2 Robbies: Alexis/Mkhitaryan transfer saga and more

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle recap all the key stories from the latest Premier League Saturday fixtures including Manchester City’s 3-1 win over Newcastle (0:20), Chelsea’s 4-0 victory at Brighton (10:15) and the latest on the Alexis Sanchez/Henrikh Mkhitaryan saga after wins for Arsenal and Manchester United (19:00). Plus, a closer look at the bottom of the table and thoughts go out to James McCarthy after his serious injury against West Brom (29:00).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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Video: Stoke’s Imbula scores stunner on loan at Toulouse

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Stoke City supporters know the name Giannelli Imbula, and perhaps they’ll be clamoring for the Frenchman to return to the bet365 Stadium if he can score more goals like this.

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The holding midfielder is currently on loan with Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse, and for the first time this season, Imbula opened his goalscoring account in some fashion.

Right on half-hour mark, Imbula unleashed a left-footed strike from nearly 40 yards out to give Toulouse the lead over Montpellier (below).

Imbula joined Stoke during the 2015/16 PL season, and has made 26 appearances for the Potters in his time with the club, prior to his loan to France.

Willian proves he’s Chelsea’s x-factor against Brighton

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There’s a considerable difference when watching a Chelsea team that plays with and without one of its Brazilian influences in the attacking part of the field.

Willian — who first debuted for the Blues back in 2013 — hasn’t always managed to be a regular starter for Chelsea, whether it was Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink or current manager Antonio Conte at the helm, though.

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The 29-year-old plays with considerable flair, something that certainly isn’t uncommon amongst many players that have grown up in Brazil.

At times Willian’s overconfidence is a significant blessing, and at others it can be considered a curse, however, the former Corinthians player’s presence is something that Chelsea needs now more than ever.

That was on display on Saturday during the side’s 4-0 win at Brighton, a match in which Chelsea dominated from start to finish with Willian on the pitch. While the performance cannot solely be attributed to the attacking midfielder’s showing, it’s easy to argue that the Blues midfielder is becoming the club’s biggest x factor — one that can determine the outcome of a match.

Just look six minutes into the match, when the Blues put together one of the best team goals you’ll see in a match this year (or any year for that matter), which of course, was started and finished by none other than Willian.

What stands out about the play isn’t the brilliant slicing shot into the near post corner by the veteran playmaker, but instead the confidence that Willian exudes and brings to a Chelsea lineup that has plenty of talent to be considered one of the best teams in England and all of Europe.

After all, Conte’s group is just a season removed from winning the Premier League and still sits inside the top three in the world’s top league.

Then, there’s the Blues’ third goal against Brighton, which was set up by a smart, and instinctive, through ball played into the path of Eden Hazard by Willian (below).

Even though Hazard ends up with a ton of time on the ball to make his next decision, which was ultimately to cut inside on his preferred right foot, the run by Willian towards the end line dragged a defender away from the Belgian international — allowing the sequence to progress.

Arguing Willian’s importance isn’t a knock on Hazard — a world-class player in his own right — or Alvaro Morata, who has had the intolerable task of replacing a key player like Diego Costa.

Instead, it simply shows that Chelsea has a plethora of talent, and that some of the club’s attacking struggles throughout the 2017/18 season can be chalked up to Willian being left out of the starting XI on a regular basis.

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The Brazilian international has scored eight goals and added seven assists this season in all competitions for the Blues, despite only starting 19 matches.

The mind of manager Conte is an ever-changing one, so maybe Willian still doesn’t get the starting nod on an every week basis, but just by watching the team’s performance at the Amex Stadium it’s quite hard to argue against the player being on the field as much as possible.

Premier League Preview: Southampton vs. Tottenham

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Southampton will host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via with both sides hoping to pick up three points for very different reasons.

The Saints are currently in the midst of a fierce relegation battle through 23 matches, and sit in 18th place in the Premier League, while Spurs are hoping challenge for a top-four position.


Mauricio Pellegrino‘s Southampton could get defender Maya Yoshida back in time for Sunday’s match, however, the side will be without Charlie Austin once more, who is currently nursing a hamstring injury.

Meanwhile, a number of key figures will miss the match for Tottenham, including goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and Harry Winks. Also, Danny Rose and Toby Alderweireld remain sidelined with injuries, although the latter is expected to be back soon.

What they’re saying

Mauricio Pellegrino on state of the Saints: “We are not happy with our position but in three or four weeks’ time everything can change. It’s part of our competition. I feel in our team the spirit is really good and everybody is conscious about what we need. I receive these messages from players every day, and we have to convert these feelings into stats.”

Mauricio Pochettino on potential January moves: “To be honest it will be difficult. At some point you always dream but not too much exciting [is happening]. If it happens, it happens. If not, then it doesn’t happen. We are happy with the squad.”


Harry Kane is firing at an absurd rate recently, and Southampton’s current form is worrisome to say the least. With just four wins all season, it’s hard to imagine the Saints coming out in front in their clash. Southampton 0-3 Tottenham